The 2011 fantasy season is done, so it’s time to look ahead to next year. Many new dynasty leagues will be forming soon, so it’s time for an incredibly early initial mock draft. Even if your league is older than dirt, it’s always good to know where your players would fall in a new league draft as well.
While many of the same players are still towards the top, we’ve seen some new stars clearly emerge and some others clearly on the decline.
This is essentially a one-man mock draft created for a PPR dynasty league, so don’t get too caught up into what a team in an assigned slot would end up looking like. Also keep in mind that this is one man’s mock draft, so the players taken may not fall exactly in line with our rankings that are compiled using multiple opinions.
With that in mind, let’s take a look into the future with an early first round!
1. Ray Rice, RB BAL
For the first time in years, there really isn’t a clear cut first pick. In new drafts, it’s likely better to have pick #3 or #4, but Rice is a great pillar to build around for any dynasty franchise. He’ll turn 25 later this month, and he’s fresh off a season where he posted 1,364 rushing yards, 704 receiving yards and a massive 76 receptions. When you add his 15 total touchdowns, that’s the definition of production. It’s time for Rice to get the credit he deserves.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB PHI
McCoy disappointed many fantasy owners during championship week, but let’s not forget what he did this season. His 1,624 total yards and 20 total touchdowns were enough to merit consideration for fantasy MVP. Still just 23, McCoy promises to be the focal point of the Eagles offense for years to come. When you consider his catches were actually down this year in comparison to last season, you can still see room for growth – that’s scary for opponents.
3. Arian Foster, RB HOU
If Foster is given a new long-term deal in Houston, he could move all the way up to number one. As it stands, he’s comfortably in the top three. It’s possible, though highly unlikely, that the Texans don’t give him the money he looks for and lets him go via free agency. With Ben Tate in the fold, there’s a higher chance that happens with Foster than say, Ray Rice, who the Ravens simply cannot afford to let go. That being said, Foster has proven now that he is among the elite of all fantasy players, capable of winning games nearly all by himself.
4. Calvin Johnson, WR DET
After the running backs are off the board, it’s awfully tough to decide between Megatron and Aaron Rodgers. The maturation of Matt Stafford has finally allowed Calvin to reach his full potential. His 96 catches, 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns made him the supreme wide receiver in fantasy. If you take out a stretch of games at the end where he struggled, the numbers had the potential to be even more ridiculous.
5. Aaron Rodgers, QB GB
After throwing for 45 touchdowns and just six interceptions, Rodgers reminded everyone who the Sheriff is at the quarterback position. His season broke many single season records in dynasty leagues even without him hitting the field in week 17. Any team with A-Rod is a force to be reckoned with. At just 28, he could give you nearly a decade of elite production – that’s worth a pick in the top five.
6. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAX
Rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated as he led the league in rushing in 2011. MJD is a notch below the true elite running backs, but he’s as consistent as they come even on a horrible team.
7. Adrian Peterson, RB MIN
It’s going to take a riverboat gambler to take Peterson in a dynasty league draft, but you can’t dismiss how truly great he is. While he may never return to pre-ACL tear form, even a 90% Peterson is good enough to be a RB1 again.
8. Matt Forte, RB CHI
Forte’s season also ended with an injury, but not before showing us just how dynamic of a weapon he is. He’s still just 26 and is an absolute beast in a PPR league.
9. Drew Brees, QB NO
If Aaron Rodgers is the Sheriff, Drew Brees is a pretty good deputy. After breaking Dan Marino’s passing mark, you have to wonder what he could possibly do next. With elite weapons and a dynamic play caller at the helm, we’ll soon find out. At age 32, he belongs squarely on an early competitive team in a dynasty league, but his mere presence makes that club a threat for a title.
10. Chris Johnson, RB TEN
Anyone who says they can accurately predict what Chris Johnson is going to do next year is either a liar or a drunk. After recording just over 1,000 yards this season, there are more questions than answers in regards to Johnson. He’s the ultimate high risk, high reward player, though. Imagine getting the elite Chris Johnson late in round one, then pairing him with someone like Andre Johnson or Cam Newton early in round two. Nice.
11. Ryan Mathews, RB SD
Mathews finally showed everyone the type of player he could be in 2011 as he posted his first 1,000 yard season as a time share running back. Mike Tolbert looks to be on the way out and if he leaves, Mathews will finally have a golden opportunity to prove he can be one of the game’s elite players.
12. Larry Fitzgerald, WR ARI
Much like Calvin Johnson of old, Fitzgerald’s production is tied directly to poor quarterback play. His ability to post good numbers with the quarterbacks he’s had over the past few years is amazing. Let’s just hope he gets a legitimate signal caller here in the next few seasons.
13. Tom Brady, QB NE
There’s no doubt that he’s an elite QB1. In fact, he has seasons where he IS the first tier. With Josh McDaniels back, he’s poised for another monster season in 2012. The only thing holding Brady back is his age (he’ll turn 35 this Summer). The last time McDaniels was the OC in New England, Brady threw for 50 TDs. I think his owners would take that.
14. Jamaal Charles, RB KC
Running backs coming off injuries are just brutal to project, but Charles should be a high second rounder with tremendous upside in new dynasty league drafts. If he can come back at even 90%, he’s worth a pick about half a round higher.
15. Wes Welker, WR NE
In a PPR league, there are few players you’d want more than Wes Welker. In his time spent in New England, he’s averaged over seven catches a game, which equates to four seasons of at least 111 catches. He’s 30, but perfect for a team wanting to compete immediately in a dynasty league.
16. Matt Stafford, QB NE
We’ve been waiting for seemingly forever to see Matt Stafford finally mature and he certainly did in 2011 to the tune of 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns. There are injury concerns with Stafford, but the upside is huge.
17. Darren McFadden, RB OAK
Feel lucky? When McFadden’s feet are healthy, he’s one of the top five players in fantasy. Unfortunately, those feet simply can’t stay healthy.
18. Cam Newton, QB CAR
Newton exploded on to the fantasy scene last year with an epic rookie campaign. When you put together his 4,051 passing yards, 706 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns, you got the fantasy rookie of the year. It’s a tough call between Stafford and Newton. To me, Stafford gets the nod because of the existence of Calvin Johnson and my fear that a running quarterback like Newton will eventually break down. I wouldn’t blame you for going for it, though.
19. Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
Another season like he had in 2011 could put him in the top 10. As it is, he’s a solid second rounder. It’s just tough to believe he can put together another amazing year like that, but his postseason is looking pretty identical. Will Josh McDaniels recognize his greatness?
20. Roddy White, WR ATL
He led the league in targets again last season, but he’s starting to get up there in age. Julio Jones is chomping at the bit to be the lead dog in Atlanta, but White has proven to be a stud at the position for a long, long time.
21. Marshawn Lynch, RB SEA
Nobody knows just how he’s going to react to getting a new contract. He could run with reckless abandon like he did this year, or he could just run like Chris Johnson. Who knows!?!
22. Hakeem Nicks, WR NYG
If you’re building strictly for youth, Nicks should go before Roddy White. The existence of Victor Cruz zaps his value a bit, but the playoffs are showing just who the number one in New York really is.
23. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NYG
Bradshaw is another extremely tough player to rank. You have to figure Jacobs is all but gone next year in New York, leaving Bradshaw to be the primary runner. He’s fading a little, though.
24. Jimmy Graham, TE NO
If there’s a mass exodus at receiving in New Orleans, it’s going to make him even more important.
25. Darren Sproles, RB NO
Sproles carried some teams in PPR leagues this last season. He may not be the traditional featured back-type, but he makes the most of his touches and is as explosive as any player in the league.
26. AJ Green, WR CIN
As a rookie, Green posted a 65/1,057/7 line for the Bengals – that’s enough to get me pretty fired up for his future. He has the upside of a WR1 for sure.
27. Greg Jennings, WR GB
The Packers distribute the ball a ton, but Jennings still finds a way to get his. He does seem to get nicked up, but his consistency speaks for itself.
28. Julio Jones, WR ATL
Jones was one of the best fantasy receivers during the stretch run this season, showing us all glimpses of just how good he could be. Having Roddy White on the same team may not be ideal, but Jones is capable of being the WR1 in Atlanta here in the next few seasons.
29. DeMarco Murray, RB DAL
After some disappointing seasons in Norman, Murray simply looked reborn last season in Dallas. If he finished the year healthy, he’d be up this list a bit. As it is, he’s probably gone by now in your upcoming draft.
30. Andre Johnson, WR HOU
We’re still waiting for that magical 1,500 yard, double digit touchdown season. Unfortunately, Johnson hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough for that to happen. You love his talent, but his nagging injuries are becoming a major red flag. He’s one of those players you just hope someone else takes so you don’t have to.
31. Frank Gore, RB SF
The addition of Kendall Hunter doesn’t help Gore. In addition, he’s really looked worn down this season. A Summer of rest will do him wonders, but there’s more risk than upside with Gore at this point, especially in a PPR league.
32. Victor Cruz, WR NYG
Show us one more season of that and you’ll be in the teens next year.
33. Mike Wallace, WR PIT
The emergence of Antonio Brown really took some wind out of Wallace’s sails last year. Let’s hope for a bounceback campaign where he can re-establish himself as a WR1.
34. Mark Ingram, RB NO
Nagging injuries hurt Ingram all season, culminating in a turf toe surgery that ended his year. Pierre Thomas hasn’t taken control of the early down work in New Orleans, so Ingram should be set for a great bounce back campaign next season.
35. Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
He was able to salvage a pretty good season in PPR leagues, even with Cam Newton vulturing the short rushing scores and DeAngelo Williams eating into his carries. He has top ten value if he can ever shd that time share and he’s a free agent after next season.
36. Jordy Nelson, WR GB
See Cruz, Victor
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